The reported deaths of two British militants in a drone attack in Pakistan's tribal region last week have raised fears that western Muslim converts are being targeted by Al-Qaeda in its search for “white jihadis” to mount Mumbai-style attacks in Europe, according to The Sunday Times.
The newspaper quoted western intelligence agencies as saying that Ilyas Kashmiri, recently named as Al-Qaeda's chief military strategist in Pakistan and Afghanistan and dubbed the “new Bin Laden,” had been “assigned to bring western recruits” into the organisation.
The 46-year-old “one-eyed terrorist,” reportedly described by one Pakistani Army officer as the “most dangerous man for Pakistan, Europe and the United States,” was said to be “plotting” attacks in Britain and other European countries, including France and Germany.
“Reports that two British militants had been killed in a drone attack in the lawless North Waziristan region, where Kashmiri has established his base, emerged as Interpol warned that Al-Qaeda intended to strike in Europe or America during the Christmas period,” the paper said.
It said few details about the two men were known except that they were believed to be Muslim converts who had adopted local names, Mansoor Ahmed and Abu Bakr. Before conversion, one was called Steve and the other had the surname Smith, it said.
‘White skin militants'
The report claimed that local sources in Waziristan had reported seeing many “white skin” militants, most of them German, in the tribal areas.
“One tribesman said he had spoken to two young Germans with ‘golden beards' who told him in broken Pashto: ‘We are here for jihad.' Witnesses say the militants wear local clothes and travel in small groups in vehicles or on motorcycles, flaunting weapons including AK-47 assault rifles, rocket launchers and rocket-propelled grenades,” it said.
In October, MI5 launched a hunt for members of a British cell linked to Kashmiri following a tip-off that “white jihadis” were planning a commando attack. The information reportedly came from Ahmed Siddiqui, a German national of Afghan descent who claimed that Kashmiri had told him during a campfire chat in Waziristan that he had sent advance teams to Britain and Germany.